This book (which is 155 pages of the biggest print I’ve ever see in a book not for children or blind people) has a simple premise: everyone is conspiring against everyone about everything.
But when you point at everything, you’re really pointing at nothing. If a New World Order existed and included everyone from George W Bush, Gorbachev, Kissinger, Mao, “Adolph Hitler” (sic), Stalin, Reagan, Osama bin Laden, and all the world’s royal families and billionaires, you could never write a book like this. The New World Order would control everything. Anyone seeking to expose them would simply disappear.
This is the oddest thing about Alex Jones’ world: there’s no room in it for Alex Jones. The One World Government would never allow a man like him to live. The book ends with a request to send him money. “The Republic is in great danger of being completely overthrown.” This prompts a rather incredulous: “you just told me that every President since Eisenhower meets annually at Bohemian Grove to perform human sacrifice. What’s left to overthrow?”
But internal contradictions don’t matter to people like Jones. A 2012 scientific study found that belief in one conspiracy predicts belief in another conspiracy…even when that conspiracy contradicts the first. For example, the more likely you are to answer “yes” to the statement “Princess Diana faked her own death”, the more likely you are to answer “yes” to the statement “Princess Diana was murdered.”
This aligns with my own experience with self-described truth-seekers. I’ve seen Holocaust denialists simultaneously argue that 1) Auschwitz had no crematoriums, and 2) the rate at which Auschwitz could cremate bodies was insufficient to conduct the Holocaust. I’ve seen 9/11 truthers simultaneously argue that 1) the pilots were CIA patsies 2) no plane hit the Pentagon or the Towers.
Most people are driven by a need to make sense of the world. Conspiracy theorists, however, are driven by intellectual narcissism: they alone know the truth, and everyone else is stupid. They watch Youtube videos and scroll Twitter for sixteen hours a day, packing as many “truth bombs” into their heads as possible. After all, facts are like dollars: the more of them you have, the richer you are. And if one of those facts contradicts another, so what?
I found the book to be a slog. Jones has a wearisome, hectoring style: one suited to a loud-mouthed talk show host who’s used to shouting over guests and callers. Reading it made me feel pity for whoever has to sit down with him for Thanksgiving dinner. You clearly couldn’t have a reasonable discussion with this man about anything.
Sometimes Jones’ ad-libbing produces funny results. On page 15 he tells the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but he gets it jumbled: he has Nero fiddling while setting fire to Rome (perhaps while holding a firebrand between his toes.)
Most of the time, however, it just makes the book even sloppier and less grounded in fact. On page 101, he writes “For years, we warned people about FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The federal documents have been around for decades and include round-up plans and concentration camps.” End of section. New section. Such vapid handwaving would be fine on the radio, but this is a book. Can we please see excerpts from these supposed “federal documents”?
Descent Into Tyranny was written in 2002. I was curious to see how Jones’ political outlook evolved over time. I vaguely remember Infowars being a vaguely left-libertarianish outlet at the start, and the book certainly devotes time to conspiracies beloved of left-wingers, like IMF, the World Bank, and how David Koresh was a poor innocent hippie victimized by the feds. It’s published by a small outlet called Progressive Press, whose other titles can be viewed here. (Sample excerpt: “The “Arab Spring” is revealed as part of the scheme to extend the Anglo-Zionist empire and its neo-liberal regime of plunder over the entire planet.”).
Jones was certainly less fond of “Vladymir Putin” (sic) in 2002. In the section entitled “Putin Uses Terror”, he reveals that Putin destroyed an apartment complex using explosive plastique, killing 350 people. Fifteen years later Jones would be on Twitter writing stuff like “Looking forward to Putin giving me the new hashtags to use against Hillary and the dems… “ In fairness, Putin’s killing of 350 people happened a long time ago. You have to let stuff slide eventually.
The book runs out of material by the end, so Jones pads it out with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Communist Manifesto (which he insists was written by“global banking cartels”.) It’s so absurd and pointless that it almost makes the book useful again. Add Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men and the book could serve as a middle-schooler’s summer reading list.